Injury-hit Matlock suffer third disappointing defeat on trot
Their spirited effort could not be faulted -- but injury-hit Matlock suffered their third consecutive disappointing defeat in the Midlands 2 East (North) division of the National League.
This time, their conquerors were high-flying Loughborough, who triumphed 22-5 to move up to third in the 12-team table and leave Matlock in ninth.
After their previous loss, the hosts had worked hard in the build-up, hoping to trigger a change of fortunes.
But once again, they suffered because of their list of long-term injuries, which resulted in them being without the services of no fewer than seven forwards and two three-quarters, amounting to half of their matchday squad.
Matlock did not start well, again failing to claim the ball from kick-off and immediately putting themselves unnecessarily on the back foot. Having defended the initial attacks, they were unlucky to concede a converted try after the ball had gone to ground. Loughborough kicked behind the defensive line and despite a suspicious-looking offside, they touched down.
Uncharacteristically, the Matlock pack was under pressure in the scrums, leading to much questioning over the tactics employed by the visitors’ loose head prop. It meant the backline had to work with poor quality possession from the sets for most of the game.
Despite that, two good try-scoring opportunities were created, only to be squandered because the ball carriers failed to give a final pass to supporting players for what looked like certain scores.
Seven-nil down at the break, Matlock made their task harder even harder in the second half when a man down due to a yellow card for Mike Emmerson.
The half was a close-fought affair, though, with Loughborough having to rely on their forward dominance as their only option to make ground against a solid defence.
Matlock found themselves on the wrong side of the penalty count, thus giving cheap territorial advantage too often to the visitors, who eventually took advantage with a penalty try.
The hosts responded well and clawed a try back when Dave Ball forced his way over, but after Loughborough had extended their lead to 17-5 with a well-struck, long-range penalty, Matlock lost another of their pack, Emmerson, to an ankle injury.
Despite the efforts of substitutes Jack Wood, making his first-team debut, and Ant Williams, who injected much-needed energy into the tired pack, they leaked another converted try towards the end.
Matlock 2nd also suffered a defeat, 28-17 to Sutton Bonnington Students, while the club’s third team beat Chesterfield Panthers 22-17.